Inorganization, writing

How-To Create A Writing Schedule That Works For You Part One: My Story

how-to create a writing schedule

My Story

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a consistent writer. I have an interesting relationship with writing, one that is very hot-and-cold. During NaNoWriMo, I wrote 50,000 words, averaging to 1,667 words per day, and then I barely wrote for four months. Then I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, and added 1,000 words per day to my work in progress, and I’ve barely written since.

Even when I was younger, I would write in frenzied spurts and then my notebook would gather dust for a few weeks. The cycle would repeat itself, over and over, my writing being guided entirely by emotion and inspiration.

There’s something about this hot-and-cold cycle that doesn’t seem healthy to me. It’s almost like binge-writing, where I write until I can’t possibly write anymore, and then I have to set down my pen and take a long breath.

That being said, I know from my NaNoWriMo experiences that a daily writing goal also doesn’t seem to be healthy for me, at least not in a long-term perspective. Unlike binge-writing, this seems like a writing-diet. And while it may work for a while, it doesn’t seem sustainable.

My Questions

So here’s what I’m thinking, what I’ve been questioning the past few weeks:

How do I create a writing schedule that makes space for both times of incredible inspiration and times of much-needed rest?

How do I create a writing schedule that makes me feel good and accomplished about my progress without making me feel guilty when I don’t meet my goal?

Because here’s the thing: I believe that being disciplined about writing is important. I have no doubt that writing every day would make me a better writer. But I don’t believe that having days, or weeks, or months where you’re not disciplined are bad. I don’t believe that taking a day off from writing will make my writing worse.

I believe that writers are people who feel bad about not writing.

But I don’t believe that writers should always feel bad when they’re not writing.

While many writers praise a daily writing routine, my experience has made me wonder if a daily writing goal is right for me. If a daily writing routine works for you – by all means, keep it up! I am not saying that a daily writing goal is wrong or bad, I’m just trying to work through if it’s right for me, and hopefully, figuring out if there’s another way to feel dedicated, and disciplined, without guilt, for writers who might not respond well to a daily writing goal.

If you’re interested in following me on this journey to creating a personal writing routine and schedule that doesn’t follow the “write ____ words every single day” formula, I hope you’ll check back in next Wednesday for Part Two. I’ll be sharing a worksheet to help you determine your writing goals and how a flexible schedule or routine can work along side that without adding unnecessary pressure.

Until then!


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Have you ever wondered if a daily writing schedule is right for you? Follow along as I try to figure out a more flexible way to stay dedicated and disciplined about writing, without guilt. Click through to read part one where I share my relationship with writing and why a daily writing schedule might not be for everyone.

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  • Carol

    Thinking your description of writing makes total sense. To me, writing requires inspiration, and that is not a 24/7 activity. When I push myself to create, it does not feel genuine, but everyone operates differently. Congratulations on the work you’ve done.

    May 18, 2016 at 8:44 am Reply
    • Haley

      Exactly! I don’t think we should sit around and wait for inspiration to come to us, but I don’t think we should force it either. Finding a spot somewhere between those two is what I’m hoping to accomplish with this series. Thanks for reading!
      xo, Haley

      May 18, 2016 at 8:50 am Reply
  • Lyssy Lu

    Interesting article, Haley! I can’t wait for Part 2! I find it really hard to write at home, so I drag myself out to Starbucks and just write like crazy for 3-5 hours. There are holes sometimes — like the introduction looks really weird, or a hole in the middle of a blog post where I write (RESEARCH FIRST) — but those I tackle in another Starbucks sitting for editing. I’m not sure how this is gonna work for creative writing though, and since I plan to do Camp NaNoWriMo in July (I want that 50% off Scrivener!), I’m really excited for the next part in your series!

    May 18, 2016 at 8:50 am Reply
    • Haley

      Oh goodness – I totally understand. Writing intensely for hours is great when you’re feeling inspired, but participating in NaNoWriMo is a whole different beast – it’s like a writing marathon! The 50% off Scrivener is a pretty sweet prize though 🙂
      xo, Haley

      May 18, 2016 at 9:01 am Reply
  • Ivanna

    This post is on point. Some days I feel like I should force it but then I decided I’ll just write when I have something to say

    May 18, 2016 at 10:15 am Reply
    • Haley

      Thanks Ivanna! I’m hoping to find the middle ground between forcing it and waiting around for inspiration. I hope you’ll check back in next week! Thanks for reading 🙂
      xo, Haley

      May 18, 2016 at 4:57 pm Reply
  • Alex @ Lifestyle'91

    Binge writing, binge eating, binge netflex….things just seem good in large quantities lol but I have read that is not exactly true. Keep it up and find what works for you. I look forward to hearing more about what you develop.

    May 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm Reply
    • Haley

      Haha exactly! Everything in moderation and all that… There are times when it feels like “binge writing” and other times when it feels like “diet writing” and neither of those are sustainable for me! I want a healthy relationship with writing – just like with food! Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the upcoming posts in the series too – I hope you’ll check back in!
      xo, Haley

      May 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm Reply
  • Randall J. Feinberg

    I am one who tries to write regularly, which means an hour a day. I feel my best when I stick to this schedule, but it doesn’t always happen. I don’t feel bad about it though. I equate not writing to a couple in love spending time apart. It is not the best feeling to be apart, but it makes being together all that more great! 🙂

    June 2, 2016 at 9:03 pm Reply
  • Camp NaNoWriMo July Update #3 - Whatever Bright Things

    […] days off, and being a bit behind on my goal, that’s okay. As I explained in my series about How To Make a Writing Schedule, I think it’s important to give yourself rest and room to […]

    July 20, 2016 at 6:01 am Reply
  • Andia

    Looking forward to your next article. I have tried the daily writing routine but abandoned it the following day because something else came up

    January 14, 2018 at 3:26 am Reply
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